Friday, August 17, 2012

Dilma Hangs Tough

As this article in the "Economist" points out, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff is facing some very tough challenges, including nation-wide strikes by federal public sector workers. Striking workers include teachers at federal universities, as well as federal police, who have blocked roads and "worked to the rule" at airports, causing major travel slowdowns. 

The group that is coordinating the strikes has close ties to Dilma's political party, the Workers' Party, or the PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores. In spite of this close connection, and perhaps risking her own political future, Dilma is insisting that any salary increases "be limited to the lowest paid, or tied to productivity." Furthermore, strikers may have their pay docked.

As coverage in Brazilian newspapers shows on a daily basis, Brazilians have been greatly inconvenienced by the strikes.  Here's a photo showing long lines at Afonso Pena airport in Paraná:
Photo from "Folha" online, August 17, 2012
As you can see from her hair style, this photo is not a recent one, and I know that Dilma isn't really flipping anyone off, but I couldn't resist including it, because it shows how Dilma may feel about the strikers.

In another break from her party's policies, Dilma has also begun pushing for more privatization, and on August 15, "unveiled plans for auctions to bring private firms into building and running infrastructure."

These actions seem to be clear signs that Dilma is not going to be held prisoner by her political affiliations and is determined to do whatever is necessary in order to keep Brazil moving forward. They also tend to discredit critics who dismiss her as nothing more than a less charismatic version of Lula who sticks to the party line. While Dilma currently has extremely high approval ratings in Brazil, it remains to be seen what will happen to those ratings if the strikes continue for a long time.

Dilma's actions are important not just to Brazil, but to the global economy, because as the world's sixth largest economy, what happens in Brazil will have an impact elsewhere.  

The "Economist," a fiscally conservative and generally pro-business publication, views Dilma's actions with approval, but is cautiously optimistic about the outcome.  

Source:  Brazil Portal

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